Memory of the World (MOW) Programme in Cambodia

@UNESCO/Chanthul Suos - Photo Exhibition at Tuol Sleng Museum

Heritage under the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme is the documented, col­lective memory of the people of the world. It is the legacy of the past. The programme recognizes documentary heritage of international, regional and national significance, maintains registers of it, and facilitates preservation and access without discrimination. It campaigns to raise awareness of the documentary heritage and to alert governments, the general public and businesses to preservation needs. The Cambodian government has recently agreed to form a Memory of the World National Committee under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and the Cambodian National Commission for UNESCO.

During the three day meeting of the International Advisory Committee (IAC) of UNES­CO’s Memory of the World Programme, which was held on July 31, 2009 in Bridgetown, Barbados, Director General of UNESCO announced the inscription of documentary heri­tage on the recommendation of experts of the IAC of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme. The historical photographs and documents from the site of the S-21 prison and interrogation center of the Pol Pot regime, currently held at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, were listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register on 31 July, 2009. The museum archive holds 4,186 prisoner “confessions”, 6,226 biographies of prisoners and 6,147 photographic prints.

Hoover Institute at Stanford University, The War Crimes Studies Center at UC Berkeley, UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts have entered into an agreement to work on preserving and digitizing the Tuol Sleng archives—A three-year initiative that has just recently completed its assessment phase. In equal partnership, the UNESCO Office in Phnom Penh are working towards preserving and digitizing these documents in Cambodia through building the capacity of the staff within the museum and the ministry. Registering the Tuol Sleng documents on the MOW International Register had called the needed attention and support from experts around the world, and this partnership had been facilitated.

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